Historic land in Mesa could make way for apartments, café
Corrections and clarifications: A previous version of this article gave an incorrect spelling of Charles Crismon's last name.
Vacant land that was once home to a historic farming house in north Mesa could become apartments after the City Council voted to hear the rezoning request.
The historic house and farming site held such historical importance it changed the route a freeway took across the Valley. The rezoning will also remove a special protection for historic landmarks. The development received pushback from residents in 2021, forcing the developers to go back to the drawing board and lower the density of the project.
Councilmember Mark Freeman, who represents the area, supports the project and said, during a council study session, it's the best use for the land. He would have preferred to have slated it for single-family homes but said that there has been no interest for that type of development at the site.
Residents who live in the surrounding area and spoke at Monday's City Council meeting cited traffic and safety concerns with a proposed roundabout and the encroachment of multifamily housing to the farming character of the area.
The Mesa City Council could vote on the rezoning case and a development agreement on Feb. 13, according to a city spokesperson. Opponents of the development will get another chance to voice their opinions.
What's to come
The developer, Sweetwater Companies, plans to build a three-story, 222-unit apartment complex named The Homestead at Lehi Crossing, along Gilbert and McDowell roads just south of the Loop 202. Planning documents show plans for a nearly 1,500-square-foot café to be open for the public called Crismon Soda Shop.
As part of the rezoning case, the city plans to sign off on a development agreement with Sweetwater Companies to pave a 10-foot wide trail, plant desert trees and shrubs and maintain landscape along the adjacent canal area on Salt River Project property for 10 years. SRP requires a canal license agreement to be signed with a municipally over private developers, according to city staff.
After the 10 years are up, maintenance of the trail and landscape could fall in the hands of the city if the developer and SRP chose not to sign a new agreement.
Other changes to the area include improvements to the Loop 202 and Gilbert Road intersection. That could include replacing the current traffic signal with a multi-lane roundabout. Residents at Monday's City Council meeting raised concerns that the roundabout could cause more traffic accidents and would make it hard for large trailers and trucks to make that type of turn.
City transportation staff said with design, they will be able to properly accommodate trucks and trailers. Responding to the safety issues one staff member said crashes that occur at roundabouts are less severe than at intersections.
History of the land includes Mesa pioneer roots
Charles B. Crismon established the farm homestead in 1890. The Crismon family was part of the second Mesa pioneer company and often credited to be one of the city's founding members.
The property was so important historically that the Arizona Department of Transportation designed the Loop 202 alignment to go around it, according to The Arizona Republic archives.
Mesa purchased four acres of land in 2000 from the Crismon estate that included the historic house and gave it a historic landmark overlay zoning. At one point, the city envisioned to be a trailhead for nearby canal trail. The city sold off the property five years later. A fire later destroyed the historic farmhouse in 2007.
Mesa's historic preservation board recommend getting rid the historic designation of the land after the home had been removed in 2021.
Reporter Maritza Dominguez covers Mesa/Gilbert and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 480-271-0646. Follow her on Twitter @maritzacdom.